Dmitry Hvorostovsky: The doctors told me, ‘you won’t die’

Dmitry Hvorostovsky: The doctors told me, ‘you won’t die’


norman lebrecht

November 23, 2015

The great bass-baritone has given an extraordinarily revealing account to the Tass newsagency of his six-month struggle with brain cancer. Extracts:

+ Strictly between you and me. This is a great secret of mine: I don’t run my website or page in the social networks myself. I rely on assistance from trained specialists. Naturally, they do everything with my prior consent and approval, but I don’t write posts in Facebook myself or place photos in Instagram. I don’t even remember the passwords to them…. God is my witness, I didn’t have the slightest intention of bolstering publicity using rumors about my illness and other people’s curiosity.

hvorostovsky putin

+ Firstly, the main message I heard from the doctors was this: “You won’t die.” Of no smaller importance was the promise that I would be able to remain on stage and lead an active life. True, some restrictions might follow, I was told, but certain losses will be unavoidable anyway. For the sake of this goal it was worth struggling with the inconveniences chemotherapy and radiotherapy would entail.

+ I’ve turned half-bald. Lost all hair on the back of my head. At a US hospital in Rochester I underwent a mighty biopsy under general anesthesia. Without that it was impossible to realize what method of treatment should be selected. In fact, I had holes drilled in the base of the skull. If you bring your hand close enough to the irradiated area, you will feel it is warmer than others. Occasionally, when blood rushes to this place, I have strong pulsations there. Feel pretty close to hearing music…

hvorostovsky met

+ On September 25, at the opening of a new season at Met, where I made my first appearance after the break for medical treatment. I knew perfectly well that the audience will explode with an ovation the moment I would appear on stage. I was almost sure that the conductor would pause the performance for a moment to let the spectators express their feelings. It was essential to get through these minutes, not to lose breath, to hold back tears and not to collapse on the floor right there. I am not exaggerating. It was a tremendous psychological test. And the most complex one. Not the global process of resuming my professional career, but the very first step. The role of Count di Luna in Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore is considered one of the most difficult ones among the baritones, but I love it. As the plot unfolds, my character does a lot of fencing fights. My current condition as it is, there was surely an extra reason for being worried, but, as I’ve already told you, my greatest concern was not about that, but about the moment I was to begin the first monologue. As I walked there, I kept saying to myself: “Hold on! Hold on!” So it happened. I stayed firm.

+ We lined up for the final bow. The conductor – Marco Armiliato – suddenly grabbed me by the hand and pushed forward. At first I was in confusion. It’s against the custom. And then I saw flowers flying towards me from the orchestra pit. Many flowers! Very many! I did not know what to do. I looked back towards my partners. Anna Netrbeko, Marco Armiliato and others were applauding… and weeping. I am not a man of iron, either! I bent down and started picking up the roses lying in front of me with trembling hands, while many more flowers kept pouring in! Long and very thorny… Then I turned and handed the ones I’d just picked up to the ladies on stage.

Believe me, such a token of recognition from the Met orchestra is hard to over-appreciate.

Read the full interview here.





  • Furzwängler says:

    Great news that this outstanding baritone is back. May all be well for him now and in the future.

  • Dzovinar says:

    Témoignage émouvant s’il en est. Dmitri se montre humain, c’est – à – dire vulnérable, mais aussi un homme d’un grand courage ! Je lui souhaite le meilleur dans sa vie personnelle comme professionnelle !

  • Kristina Pax says:

    Dear God, Please keep this beautiful human being safe. Whole world is pleading and praying for Dmitri Hvorostovsky. People from all wakes of life need this magnificent man, son, father, husband to be with us. He gives so much of himself to others through his unbelievable gift of a voice.He beautifies human lives. Please God, allow this rare, gifted man to be free of life-threatening health issues. Thank you God for hearing my voice.

    • Ninon Lewis says:

      Thank you. Your lines are a balm over the agony caused by his death today.
      Unable to put my sadness into words.
      God will embrace him.

  • Kristina Pax says:

    Never in the musical history had a soloist navigated his vocal powers to such an artistic perfection. Everything he delivers is flawless.Everything he sings, from light, folklore songs to a heavy, demanding operatic arias, has so much unique flavour, feelings and distinction. He is an awe inspiring artist. Many stars work hard to achieve their place on the pages of the musical history. His achievement has that one rare ingredient. It is an intelligent blend of vivid, phenomenal imagination and determination. Determination to give the best.

  • Kristina Pax says:

    Listening daily to the magnificent voice of D. M. I always wrap his person in my positive energy field. My whole being pleads with heavenly powers to make him healthy and strong again. His performances deliver magic.There is something in his persona that makes his art of singing an unspeakable thrill. Whatever he sings, his heart and soul are in the core of the melody. And he brings a healing time to people homes. He delivers peace in his mesmerizing way. A Nobel Prize In Music should be awarded to Dmitri Hvorostovsky.

  • Maxim hvorostovsky says:

    He’s not going to die

  • Kristina Pax says:

    Maxim, I have read your message to the world with tears of joy. Sending my love to entire Hvorostovsky clan.

  • Terry J Lynch says:

    I just discovered this magnificent talent and now he is gone. My soul cries

    • Dorothy Maley says:

      I also was late in hearing this magnificent voice and seeing this beautiful man and now I listen every day. My tears always close when he smiles his lovely smile. Love to his family.

  • Kubus91 says:

    You born for singing
    You are singing after your death